Thursday, 7 January 2016

This blog is about this blog...

Hello all

Welcome to the blog of the Damned. This is a site for keeping people updated on the various developments (good or bad, mainly bad) regarding the various campaigns raging around the northern side of Belfast's city centre.

1/What’s the big deal?

Well, there are a number of issues and campaigns but in a nutshell it can be described as a plan for developing the area around Smithfield & Union (good?) but with heavy amounts of demolition of the area's pre-war buildings (bad!) and there's also talk of compulsory purchase of buildings including businesses and homes (bad).

We aren't against redevelopment of the area, just the needless demolition of the old buildings, especially when they could be refurbished and utilised (more on that later).

The most famous of these campaigns is by the Sunflower pub on the corner of Kent and Union St.

The Sunflower - Under threat?

 Other Campaigns include groups like 'Save the Orpheus' over on Facebook and indeed the tireless work of the folks over at the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society;

 2/ The bigger picture – This is but a small part of the proposed redevelopment of the north side of the city centre

FYI, so far this development (or a contributing part of it rather, by the Ulster University) has seen the demolition of no less than TWO prominent Art Deco era buildings, the Orpheus (former Co-op building) and the Metropole, adjacent buildings on York st.

The Metropole - Gone

The Orpheus - The latest victim of Ulster University's
vendetta against buildings with cool names?
And yes, demolishing the Orpheus was a 'big deal':

"Saving historic buildings to use as part of
an institute of higher education?! Impossible!!!!"
The plans for the overall development of the area are on display in the planning office in Linenhall st, Belfast, ref no. LA04/2015/0577/O
You can pop in, request to see them and have a peruse.

3/ The fuss

Well, there’s been a bit of a kerfuffle, as demolishing one's city can be a tad upsetting.

Unsurprisingly a reasonable number of people are upset and not just the elves behind this blog, here’s some of the main concerned groups:

The peeps over at Smithfield & Union

Businesses: The Sunflower - (Still a work in progress) & Us:

Twitters, tweeters and others:

(Unconfirmed, he could have just been asking for directions…)

Joe Public - Not happy

4/ So what?!

Well, good question.

Simply put, for various reasons a not inconsiderable number of people are alarmed at the idea of wholesale demolition of an area.

Now, after this opinions vary; some wish for wholesale refurbishment, some for fa├žade retention, some for green spaces and some for a simple integration of the existing architecture into the new developments.

It’s not hard to do and has been done numerous times in numerous places, including Belfast.

Conservation area?

This is something that would solve a lot of problems and will be covered in due course

The arguments for considered redevelopment will be covered in later blogs, this one is more of a “hello! Here we are!” type thing.

In the mean time we’ll leave you with pictures of successful building conversions just to show you what CAN be done with the Smithfield & Union area (minus the canals):


The Olympia, Glasgow - Before
The Olympia, Glasgow - After


Finally, as usual, here’s the helpful footer:

Here are two ways of protesting against the development plans:
1/ Email the planning department quoting the ref. number LA04/2015/0577/O , explain your objections and request a reply.

2/ Sign onto the planning portal, log in and place an objection. It takes a few minutes, but goes straight to the source.

Simply register and then add a comment (tick the ‘object’ button too).


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